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By the time I was about 12 years old, it quickly became apparent that there was an entire world of social interaction happening right under my nose — on the internet.
Like an elementary classroom secret, this online world began to spread.
I think ICQ is heavily used by Russians and other people outside the US.
AOL changed its brand from an ISP to an internet portal.
Chatrooms are no longer the trendy internet thing to do, thanks to a plethora of social networking platforms that offer far less obscurity and are based on connecting real life identities.
I can remember having 4 or 5 girls chatting with me at once on a typical night, and before you know it I got phone numbers and "let's meet" messages from them.
It wasn’t perfect by any means, but in a pre-Facebook world, it was free and undiscovered.
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While chatrooms still exist, they have a much seedier reputation now, thanks to the advent of To Catch a Predator and Chris Hansen (“Why don’t you take a seat over there? This was the ’90s, before firewalls and parental controls.
By the early 2000s, parents became aware of cyberbullies and sexual predators, and how the internet isn’t all that different from the playground.
No one could give your embarrassing screen-name a google and instantly find you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Linked In.